• Main Attractions: Charminar, Golconda Fort, Chowmahalla Palace
  • Best Time to Visit: Late October to early March
  • Local Specialty: Pearl jewellery
  • Travelled By: Train, bus, auto rickshaw
  • Cost: $$
  • Duration of Stay: 2 days
  • Location: Andhra Pradesh, India

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Hyderabad, the “City of Pearls”, is an introduction to the history and culture of South India. The Old City is replete with Islamic monuments, Persian-inspired architecture and opulent palaces. It didn’t hit us over the head with its attractions, however, its subtle charms and its fascinating history will live in our memories for a long time to come.

Hyderabad: Our Experience


26th November 2013


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We had taken the train the night before from Aurangabad which was running late but we managed to arrive into Secunderabad on time at 9am. Since we were staying in Abids, Hyderabad, we caught a bus from outside the Secunderabad train station which dropped us on the main road in Abids.

After a nice hot shower, we caught a bus from Nampally train station to Golconda Fort situated in the ancient city of Golconda 13 km (7 miles) away.


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Golconda Fort, one of the great medieval fortresses in India, was the capital of the Qutub Shahi kings who ruled over the area from 1507 to 1687. Golconda consists of four distinct forts with a 10 km long outer wall with 87 semicircular bastions (some still mounted with cannons), eight gateways, and four drawbridges, with a number of royal apartments and halls, temples, mosques, magazines, and stables inside.


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Following our visit to the fortress in Golconda, we stopped at a restaurant outside the fort to have some lunch. Being in the South Indian city of Hyderabad, the popular cuisine is South Indian so we ordered a plate of idlis for a quick lunch meal.

Idli is a traditional breakfast in South Indian households. Idli is a savoury cake popular throughout the southern part of India. The cakes are made by steaming a batter consisting of fermented black lentils (de-husked) and rice. Most often eaten at breakfast or as a snack, idlis are usually served in pairs with chutney, sambar, or other accompaniments.


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Later in the afternoon, we made our way to the nearby Qutub Shahi tombs to see the dome shaped resting abode of the Qutub Shahi rulers of Hyderabad. We took an auto rickshaw for a short ride from Golconda Fort to the Qutub Shahi tombs.

About 1.5km (1640 yards) northwest of Golconda Fort’s Balahisar Gate lies the graceful domed Qutub Shahi tombs. This royal necropolis with intricately carved stonework is laid out in gardens with water channels, pools and tree-lined pathways. Among the mausoleums, Mohammad Quli Qutub Shahi is the most impressive. Also worth a visit are the tombs of Hayat Bakshi Begum and Abdullah Qutb Shah (VII ruler), the Great Mosque and the Badshahi Hammam.

After a leisurely stroll around the gardens we took a bus back to Abids in the evening. After a rest and a nice shower we were ready to head out for dinner to Kamat Hotel near Nampally Station Road.


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Kamat Hotel is well known for their delicious South Indian meals which are really delicious and cheap. This chain of South Indian restaurants has quite a few branches around Hyderabad and Secunderabad so you won’t have to travel far to find one. Duck into any branch for lunch, dinner or simply a snack.



27th November 2013


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For our last day in Hyderabad we left early in the morning to visit the Hyderabad attractions we hadn’t seen the day before. Our first stop was Charminar located in the heart of the Old City.

Charminar which means “Four Towers” is the iconic landmark of the city of Hyderabad. Built in 1591 by King Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, the fifth ruler of the Qutub Shahi dynasty, it was built in commemoration of the eradication of plague. Today, it stands at the crossroads of a bustling cosmopolitan city surrounded by lively markets selling all kinds of goods.


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Most of the popular attractions in Hyderabad are located in the Old City so we walked through the narrow streets past markets and street peddlars to Chowmahalla Palace.

Located southeast of Laad Bazar, Chowmahalla Palace, which means “Four Palaces”, is a palace of the Nizams of Hyderabad. Modelled on the Shah of Iran’s palace in Tehran, this palace is unique for its style and elegance.


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It was late morning when we made our way back to the middle of the Old City to Mecca Masjid located near the iconic Charminar.

Located in the historical district of Hyderabad, Mecca Masjid is the second largest mosque in India and one of the largest in the world. Several bricks embedded in the central arch are made with soil from Mecca hence the name Mecca Masjid. To the left of the mosque, an enclosure contains the tombs of five Asaf Jahi rulers, the Nizams of Hyderabad.

To visit the mosque, Graham had to wear long pants while I had to wear a scarf covering my head in respect.


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Before we left the Old City we spent some time in the afternoon walking around Laad Bazaar enjoying the hustle and bustle of people coming and going.

West of the Charminar, the crowded Laad Bazaar is the perfect place to get lost. It is the oldest and biggest market in Hyderabad selling everything from bangles, jewellery and perfumes to fabrics, wedding related items and kitchen implements. Laad Bazaar is the best place for shopping in Hyderabad so we took the opportunity to buy some souvenirs here.


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Tired from walking around Laad Bazaar, we made our way over to Hotel Shadab to indulge in some the best Hyderabadi biryani the town had to offer. Our favourite restaurant in Hyderabad, it lived up to our expectations.

Shadab Hotel is an institution for lip-smacking Mughlai food in Hyderabad. This is the place to visit if you want to try Hyderabadi biryani at its best. During the festival of Ramadan, they also make the best haleem. If you don’t mind rubbing shoulders with the locals this is the place to visit when in Hyderabad.


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We spent the rest of the day at Salar Jung Museum. We had to take an auto rickshaw to get there from the Old City as it’s located 2.5 km (2 miles) away.

Salar Jung Museum is the third largest museum in India housing the biggest one-man collections of antiques in the world. Belonging to the Salar Jung family who served as Prime Ministers of Hyderabad, it is well known throughout India for its huge and varied prized collections belonging to different civilizations dating back to the 1st century.


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We decided to have an early dinner before our train departed for Hospet (Hampi) at 9pm that night. For our last meal in Hyderabad we decided to try Kamat Andhra Meals as they serve their meals on banana leaves which we thought was quite unique.

Kamat Andhra Meals is an ‘all-you-can-eat’ restaurant specialising in Andhra style vegetarian thalis. Don’t be fooled by this advertisement because the food here is so unappetising that you wouldn’t want another serve of anything. The only saving grace is their desserts which isn’t saying much.


Our short two day trip in Hyderabad had come to a quick end but we were happy that we had seen everything we had come to see and learnt a lot about the rulers and Nizams of Hyderabad. Hyderabad was an introduction to the history and culture of South India. It didn’t hit us over the head with its attractions, however, its subtle charms and its fascinating history will live in our memories for a long time to come.